Our Board

Advocacy Service Aberdeen is governed by a volunteer group of directors who make up our Board. If you feel you have the time and skills to contribute to the running of ASA and are interested in joining our Board, please contact 01224 332314 or email asa@advocacy.org.uk

Antonio Gonzales

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Antonio was born in the Philippines and migrated to Aberdeen in 2006. He attended Robert Gordon University via distance learning achieving an Honours Degree in Business Management and an MSc in Project Management.


A parent of a child with additional support needs, Antonio has first-hand experience of the issues that parents must contend with daily. His skills and experience predominantly rest in the world of Oil and Gas, particularly in Supply Chain Management, Project Management and Strategic Planning, skills which he brings to the board of ASA with much enthusiasm and passion.


“I joined ASA at the start of 2017 as it is an organisation that is close to my heart. Although I do not have experience working in the social sector, this also serves as an advantage providing impartial and unbiased counsel to the board. I aspire that one day everyone who has a right to advocacy will be able to access it to ease their pain and struggle and ultimately improve their quality of life.”

Clare Lai

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Clare was born and brought up in Scottish Borders of Polish/Irish/Scottish extraction. She was strongly influenced by contact with local services for people with learning disabilities and the very forward-thinking psychiatric hospital. She met her husband at university in Aberdeen and post qualifying “social worked “in Aberdeen before having family. After her first child, she was ill with post-natal psychosis and hospitalised but had no recurrence of this issue been after 2 subsequent children.


Clare worked for 11 years in a local charity providing drop-in services for people with mental health problems when her children were young. During that time, she got involved with advocacy service for people with mental health issues – a service which became part of what is now ASA. She moved on to working for Cornerstone for 10 years managing Aberdeen services initially then in HR roles (having re-trained) Scotland wide. Redundancy required a change of direction into the private sector which she feels was a new and enriching window on the world. She worked for a Freight Forwarding Company initially and then 4 years with a Norwegian Company providing control systems for vessels and subsea acoustic equipment. In January 17, she stopped work to help look after her grandchildren, develop her interest in mediation through voluntary work with SACRO, and catch up on neglected household projects.


“My work and personal experiences have shown me the importance of having one’s voice heard and listened to, hence my continued belief in the importance of independent advocacy.”

Derek King

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Derek was born and brought up in Elgin. He attended Aberdeen University and spent most of his working life in Aberdeen. He is married with two children.


Derek worked in the Health Service from 1976 to 2015. He was a Consultant Haematologist to NHS Grampian from 1986 until retirement in 2015 and provided clinical service at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital for patients with blood diseases and cancer, and laboratory haematology service for general practices and hospitals in Grampian. Derek held various administrative posts in NHS Grampian and in the Scottish Managed Service Network for Children and Young People with Cancer.


Derek is currently doing regular teaching of biomedical scientists in Haematology Laboratory at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.


Derek is a trustee of the Archie Foundation at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital from 2019. He is a committee member for the organisation of annual carol concert for CLICSargent charity which supports children and young people with cancer and their families.


His other interests include photography, playing the fiddle and researching family history.


“I hope that my experience in the Health Service can add to the organisation of the Advocacy Service and its important work in supporting its various client groups.”

Donna MacLean

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Donna was born in Newcastle but grew up in Aberdeenshire and studied psychology at Aberdeen University. She has lived in Aberdeen for the past twenty years and is married with two children and two grandchildren. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, walking, keeping fit and relaxing with a good book.


As a mother of a child who had additional supports needs, Donna volunteered as an advocate for parents whose children also have additional support needs and thoroughly enjoyed this role and the support she was able to provide. Following her time as an advocate, Donna joined as a board member at ASA in 2006 but then left for a time due to work commitments before re-joining the board in January 2019.


Donna worked in public service for a number of years before retiring in 2016 and brings a breadth of skills and enthusiasm to the ASA board

“ I enjoyed my work as a volunteer advocate and saw the difference this made to the parents and children I supported. This led me to join the board of directors for ASA so I could continue to contribute to advocacy in Aberdeen. I look forward working alongside my fellow board members to address the future challenges that advocacy faces so that we can provide this valuable service to those who need it “

Kirsten McKinnon

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Kirsten first became interested in mental health issues almost twenty years ago, when mental health illness was experienced by some close family members. This interest grew over time: it became very apparent that it was often difficult for those who are ill be listened to. The views of those with mental health conditions may not be considered or given less weight unless that person has someone else supporting them.


Originally working in the food industry, and then a long period as an at home Mum, Kirsten went back to university to study law and now works as a solicitor, specialising in private client work with a particular interest in adults with incapacity and elderly care planning. During her law degree she studied alternative methods of resolving disputes. This led to Kirsten seeking an appointment to a Board position with ASA.


“As a director of ASA, I believe I can bring an external perspective to the Board and provides insight from a legal, business and personal perspective”.

Sue Barnard

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Sue is a mother to five children of whom one has a severe learning disability and a classic form of autism. Having found that there was very little help available for either of these conditions she decided to take things in hand herself. She started by running play schemes for autistic children which eventually led to the establishment of the Jigsaw Centre in Aberdeen. The next years were spent supporting families with disabled children, establishing day respite and after school clubs for them.


Equal rights for disabled people and their careers have always been high on her agenda.


Now retired Sue is still very much involved in carers’ issues and respite. She is also a director of Shared Care Scotland and Grampian Children’s Respite Care.


“Having been a carer and worked with carers and disabled people for most of my adult life I know how important it is to feel able to express opinions, needs and wants. Advocacy is an essential service for those who need help to have their views and wishes genuinely listened to and considered. I hope that, in the not too distant future advocacy will be available to all those who need it.”

Pat Robins

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Pat graduated from Keele and went on to complete a PhD at Bristol University. After teaching at Bristol Polytechnic she moved to Aberdeen with her husband where she was a tutor at Aberdeen University on a part time basis while their children were young. After taking up an administrative post with Gordon Local Health Council, she was elected to Grampian Regional Council where she served as Chair of the Social Work Committee, leaving the council in 1990 to take up a full-time post with Grampian Health Board. Initially this was a development post to work with people in disadvantaged communities to identify and address their health needs, but it evolved into setting up a new team to provide links between people in Grampian and the Health Board. A common thread emerging through all of these posts was the difficulty that many people experienced in dealing with statutory agencies and the need for someone to help them to speak up about wishes and concerns. During this period she was instrumental in developing an awareness of advocacy at local and national level and was involved in setting up the first two advocacy projects in Grampian which were the forerunners of Advocacy Service Aberdeen.


With a long-standing concern for the unique needs of carers, she worked closely with the Carers’ Centre and for a local charity providing respite care for people with learning disabilities and was a member of the Board of Shared Care Scotland.


“I ‘retired’ by turning a hobby into a retail business which also provides education and training in needlecraft and textile arts. The proven social and mental health benefits of sewing, particularly in groups, led one local GP to comment ‘You have done far more good for the health of local people since you retired that you ever did during all those years at the Health Board’. By continuing to work for ASA, I hope he may be right! “